A vision to create something special

On the April 1 First Friday, the Downtown Camas Association will be leading a celebration of the city’s history. Highlighted will be Operation 4-Sight, an effort that began more than 50 years. Business leaders hoped to improve the look of the historic district to draw and retain shoppers.

Operation 4-Sight included four phases: creation of a downtown shopping park; addition of off-street parking; beautification of buildings; and installation of all-weather marquees.

Hal Zimmerman, then the Post-Record’s owner and publisher, wrote an editorial about the effort published on May 24, 1967, just a few days ahead of a celebration planned to mark the completion of the downtown shopping park.

In part he wrote:

Praise continues to come for the Camas Downtown Shopping Park. Detractors have become fewer and less vocal, as the shrubbery grows and the park nears final form. The need for more off-street parking is more apparent, but this, too, is being worked on….

But the park itself is somewhat of a miracle, and a credit to the diligence and persistence primarily of two men — Glenn Farrell and Dr. Tom Williams. These two, Farrell more than anyone, steadily plugged for the park when it seemed at best visionary….

At several points it seemed impossible. There would be too much opposition from land owners, city would not cooperate, the program was too grandiose and ambitious….

There were two factors that helped: The fact the city fathers had a city municipal center in their minds, and it, too, had been bid in far higher than the estimates, and they weren’t to delay or postpone that project, meant that the shopping park had equal opportunity to live. Secondly, the so-called free federal money provided enough bait for city hall people to seek this help, and round out the $99,000 project…

Eventually “Operation 4-Sight” was developed. From this, step one was taken.

Work to implement steps two, three and four is still underway today.

With that in mind, during First Friday, attendees will have the opportunity to provide their input on what they would most like to see happen in downtown Camas in the future. The choices will include: more special events; more restaurants; things for children; more art related stores; a family entertainment center; more retail specialty shops; covered sidewalks/marquees; more off-street parking; mixed development on Third, Fifth and Sixth avenues; more downtown residential; a men’s store; or a central plaza/gathering space.

With a vision that was first set in motion 50 years ago, downtown Camas will continue to be shaped by its citizens and leaders.